How to Be the First to Know Not the Last
By the time you hear about an issue it’s nearly volcanic. It could have been easily managed last month. Now heads are on fire and teams are exploding.
In the dark and out of the loop always makes things worse.
Get in the loop:
You’re out of the loop because you’re a jerk when they let you in.
- Don’t minimize. It may be small potatoes to you but it’s a monster to those who are in it. “Just deal with it,” isn’t an answer.
- Don’t judge. Frustrated put-downs like, “That’s ridiculous,” cause people to pull back.
- Don’t solve. Your need to quickly fix devalues others and prevents connection.
- Don’t talk so damn much.
- Connect small. Connect on small issues if you expect to hear big ones. Trust is built in small ways not giant leaps. Invite teammates for a cup of coffee, a short walk, or lunch. Don’t talk business. Talk about them.
- Reach out. People won’t come to you. Reach into their world frequently and often. You don’t need an agenda. Close the distance.
- Remain optimistic. Teammates protect frustrated, discouraged leaders. Employees don’t want to trouble an already troubled person.
- Lean in. Ask questions. What’s important? What negative behavior is being repeated? What do you want? What does success look like?
- Expand expectations. Success isn’t the absence of problems. Expecting problems to vanish guarantees frustration.
- Create options. What works for one doesn’t work for another. Ask, “What might we do to solve this?” Then ask, “What else might we do?” And then ask again.
- Model it. Talk with others the way you want others to talk with you. They won’t be open if you’re closed.
Those who rule with fear need distance not connection.
How might leaders get and stay in the loop?
As usual, great post. My favorites are #4 on your don’t list and #1 on your do list. When you listen to your people, when they actually think you care about them and not just their performance, you are seldom the last to know.
Thanks Sarah. Number 4 on the don’t list is usually the one I most need to follow. One issue is when we think we are powerful we talk more than others. The result is we make others feel less powerful.
#7 is so key. Love your neighbor as yourself. #6 opens up discussion and brings others into the dialogue. It shows you value their opions and perspectives. It expresses humility. I need to think about #3. Do teammates protect frustrated, discouraged leaders or do they abandon them? Dan, thanks for more good food for thought.
Thanks Pete. It’s amazing how frequently we expect something from others that we don’t expect from ourselves. For example, we want employees to have a positive attitude about performance reviews but we dread them. Seems like we are inconsistent.
I go back to how I felt when I first started out in my career, and how intimating it was to talk to a senior person. Make yourself available to people and by leading with humility, others will see you are approachable. Of course, I need to remember # 4 on the don’t list…
Thanks Jim. It’s great that you bring up the tensions new/young leaders feel in regard to senior leadership. Even if you don’t intend to intimidate, you probably do.
Absolutely agree on these pointers. Some people are just born not to and can’t be leaders. I encountered who is damn proud that he is particular about time management, but he doesn’t deliver what others requested from him. It’s just so unfair.
Thanks Jess. Nothing dilutes influence more than consistent inconsistency.
It is so deep rooted practice in the organisations. You come to know the issue when maximum damage has already been done. These things happen to only particular category of people. And there are particular category of people, who always do that. Generally, those get affected are the people concerned about the tasks. For them work is worship. They engage honestly and put best effort to do their jobs. They do not think much about other factors in the environment. They also do not engage into any unnecessary practices. There are other category of people who have different ideology. For them, work is not worship. For them, managing superiors is the worship. They generally seek soft targets. Honest and hardworking people generally become soft target. There is hidden driver in doing so. Hard working people have potential to outshine, that other category of people do not want. They want to shadow them by all possible means. And criticizing and creating fear are obvious options.It depends upon the position and capacity one holds.
I appreciate your concept ” Those who rule with fear need distance not connection”. Such people are empty from within. They want to impede other and hence create distance. The fact is that, such people are hard to influence. Based on my experience, I witnessed one such person holding position used to create fear among rank and file employees. I tried to behave very politely with him and observed his behavior. I learned it was difficult to change his perception. I also realized that such people keep creating distance as long as they feel threatened from others.Such practices are generally supported from some people in the organisations. As long as such people will support such practices, people keep creating distances. So, the answer to “how might leaders get and stay in the loop” lies in leadership ideology. It is top down approach. When leader decides to root out such practice, it is very well possible. But when leader is undecided to root out such practice, it is very well impossible. Both is leadership choice.
I like this post. It makes me think of areas I would like to focus on. I posted to LI and Twitter this article and mentioned 3&4 in the don’t area is what I will focus on not doing and focus on 6 in the do area. Thanks for getting me thinking on this level.
Great Post! Numbers 1 and 2 on the “Do” list have been very valuable to me, especially when working to change aspects of organizational culture. As someone said, “If you want to change the culture, you have to infiltrate it.” No matter how “approachable” you think you are, it is you who must do the approaching. As for #4 on the “Don’t” list, who among us has ever been criticized for “listening too much?” No one I know.